All posts by Tommy Johnson

Since the year 2000, Ghettoblaster has been putting out a quarterly print magazine. For Ghettoblast from the Past, we look back at the bands and artists that were showcased within these pages.

From Issue 35, Matador Records Kurt Vile.  Words by Tim Anderl. Photos by Jon Stars.

Kurt Vile1

Kurt Vile2

Kurt Vile3

Kurt Vile4

Kurt Vile5

To subscribe to Ghettoblaster Magazine or to pick up this issue, head over to our In Print page.

All it took for Norwegian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Luke Faas was to move to Oslo to meet people just like him.  Growing up in a town west of the capital, Faas found himself no longer feeling the pressure of not focusing on obtaining athletic accomplishments – a priority that the townspeople of Stabekk, Norway take great pride in.

Faas debut Apathy draws inspiration from the alienated-like feelings he experienced with classic soul and R&B sounds.  Along with producer Nicolay Tangen Svennæs (Bernhoft, Emilie Nicolas), Apathy is fused with modern electronics.  The debut single “Should’ve Seen It” has amassed over 200,000 streams online and was place in regular rotation on NRK P3, Norway’s most influential radio channel.

Today, Ghettoblaster is happy to premiere the video for Faas’ single “Why Bother”.  Here’s what Faas said about the video:

“I got the idea for the video the same week I recorded “Why Bother”, walking around The Vigeland Museum in Oslo. It’s packed with Gustav Vigeland’s beautiful sculptures that expresses the full array of human life, joys and struggles. The sculptures connected so well to how I felt writing the song, so I decided I had to do a video there.

Despite our plan to run around in the dark with a camera and a big light rig, possibly damaging the sculptures, the museum was super helpful and stoked about the project. Shooting it with the super skilled director Kristoffer Grindheim was so much fun, and we’re so happy we got the opportunity to unite different art disciplines in the video.”

Apathy comes out June 16 via Easy Records.

(Visit Luke Faas here:


It’s hard to place Washington, D.C.’s own Reagan Bombs in any musical category.  Composed of DJ/Producer Tittsworth (who has worked with such artists as Q-Tip, Theophilus London, Kid Sister and Pitbull) and DJ/Screenwriter Scott Sanders (Black Dynamite, Thick As Thieves), the duo have spawned a hybrid sound that infuses their hometown’s brand of percussive funk known to many as Go-Go music.  What’s even more intriguing about Reagan Bombs is that they don’t go about recording their music normally.  Tracks are built using samples of other live musicians and using contrasting sources to conceive dazzling tunes.  Sounds found from various outlets, interview snippets, and classic VHS tapes are just some of Reagan Bombs tools.

Today, Ghettoblaster is proud to share the single “Red Thumb”, which will be on Reagan Bombs upcoming album S/T.

Here’s a quote from Tittsworth about the backstory of “Red Thumb”:

Scott and I both really dig a lot of percussive Indian music. Noticing a lot of similarities with go-go, we thought it would be cool to see how the go-go pocket combines with the Indian approach to tablas, dhols, etc. So we laid down most of the song w/ Stomp, Smoke and Shelby, then in true globalization fashion, used fiverr to get a tabla player on the track. A lot of folks have said this is their fav on the LP. Also as a result, I would travel to India to play & record drummers in makeshift studios out of hotel bathrooms:

(To see the makeshift studio mentioned above:

Oh, and the vocal is a go-go commercial, reversed. DC turned accidental dancehall.”

Reagan Bombs S/T is released on  June 9th via Swedish Columbia in cassette and digital.

To order a copy:

Since the year 2000, Ghettoblaster has been putting out a quarterly print magazine. For Ghettoblast from the Past, we look back at the bands and artists that were showcased within these pages.

From Issue 45, ATO Records Drive By Truckers.  Words by Tommy Johnson.

Drive By Truckers1

Drive By Truckers2

To subscribe to Ghettoblaster Magazine or to pick up this issue, head over to our In Print page.

Since the year 2000, Ghettoblaster has been putting out a quarterly print magazine. For Ghettoblast from the Past, we look back at the bands and artists that were showcased within these pages.

From Issue 30, Matador Records Guided By Voices.  Words by David C. Obenour.  Photos by Beowulf Sheehan.

G B V 1

GBV2 (2)




To subscribe to Ghettoblaster Magazine or to pick up this issue, head over to our In Print page.

Looking all around him, Sam Boatright began noticing that a chance of scenery was needed for him.  Leaving his post in the garage-psych band Psychic Heat to explore other opportunities, the twenty-one Lawrence, Kansas musician went back to music that he archived years ago.

Channeling the moniker that he kept dormant till just recently Hush Machine, Boatright’s self-titled debut album comprises youthful reflections and philosophies.  These traits can be easily traced as the songs were mainly written during the musician’s high school days.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Boatright and discussed why Hush Machine was given new life, if there was any regrets leaving his previous project, and what’s next.

You just began sharing music under the moniker Hush Machine.  Although you have been under the moniker for several years now, what finally convinced you to start releasing music?

I sent out these tunes to hundreds of people over the past few years. This past year, Chris Mac at Jigsaw responded and wanted to release them under his awesome indie label. I think his courage and enthusiasm in the songs gave me a kick in the butt that I needed and validated to me that these songs may actually be good.

Before Hush Machine, you were involved in another band Psychic Heat.  How difficult was it to leave that project to explore other things?

It was hard to leave Psychic Heat, especially because those dudes are so amazing. But sometimes life happens and it just makes sense to do your own creative things. We’re all still good friends, and it’s fun to keep up with what different projects we’re putting out.

On your self-titled album, a majority of the songs were written and recorded back in 2013.  What was the reasoning of going with these batch of songs instead of recording fresh material?

I wanted to put out these songs because I felt like they deserved a proper release. It was almost as if I couldn’t fully put myself into a new thing with these songs sitting and collecting dust. I’ve recorded a handful of odd songs from Beat Happening-esque rambles and Drums-wannabe tracks, haha, but the batch of songs on this debut release recalls a very certain time for me in my life. I see it as a photograph capturing my immaturity and angst and naivety and that I could only write those songs lyrically and musically at that point.

Lyrically, the album contain a mix of youthful angst and peaceful harmony.  What was your vision during the writing process?

These were all songs written over my junior high and high school years; it’s weird singing them now, but it definitely shows me, at least, that I have changed and transformed, which is good. I didn’t have any specific vision while writing the songs, but to just not second guess myself that much. Just create and if it’s decent keep working with it until I found it to be good.

When listening to the album, I can still hear some influence of Psychic Heat.  Did you purposefully seek out to set up Hush Machine to sound differently?

Psychic Heat is a band very aware and conscious of melody and pop sensibility. I think Hush Machine is similar in that way, but otherwise, I think of Hush Machine as much more skeletal and jangly, whereas Psychic Heat could be this loud, fuzzy beast.

What was the process like recording your self-titled debut album?

I booked two days at Weights and Measures studios in Kansas City with the ever wonderful Duane Trower. He helped me hone in on the sharpness of the songs and their rigidity and he was able to let me work at the quick pace that I like. I think we both work well that way.

Did you record all of the instrumentals yourself for the album?

Yeah, I recorded all the parts, just like Andre 3000 😉

I didn’t see any upcoming shows or tours lined up.  Does Hush Machine have anything coming up in the near future?

We’re in the process of booking a tour for late June/early July and we’ve been playing a few shows a month around Lawrence. We got 2nd in KU’s Battle of the Bands (Farmer’s Ball) which was great! It was like our second show as a band; the validation from the crowd that I wasn’t an idiot for playing these songs live was very warming.

Hush Machine’s self-titled debut is out now via Jigsaw Records

(Visit Hush Machine:


Daniel Vega didn’t go far when finding inspiration when work began for They’re Not Gone-his family.  Along with hearing several stories from his relatives’ lineage, Vega intertwined them with bizarre events that occurred in the 1940’s and 50’s.   In the end, Vega pieced together lyrics that focus on death: the involvement, the aftermath, and how to continue on while being alive.  Country twang, Latin percussion, and elements of California-drenched surf rock all accompany the goals that Vega set out with They’re Not Gone.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Vega to talk about a bevy of topics: what was the reasoning to explore his family’s background, the process of recording They’re Not Gone, and why he calls the new album a “very Texas sounding record”.

During the writing process for They’re Not Gone, you were inspired by stories involving your family and strange events from the 40s and 50s.  How did those two intersect with each other?

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to continue writing songs in the style of “Salton Sea”, a track from our previous record. I knew I wanted the songs to be dark, moody, and minor; they were following a pattern I was trying to expand. Around that time, I was asking my Dad more questions about growing up, and I think if you dig enough into your history you come across stories that have a haunted quality to them. If you go back far enough, you’re talking about the lives of relatives that are no longer with us, and those stories share many similarities to ghost stories.

What did you discover about yourself involving your family that you didn’t know when you were writing the album?

I had never asked about my uncle John, and how his passing shaped by Dad’s story, pushing my family to move back to Mexico during the 1970’s. My uncle’s death lead in many ways to events that would shape my father, and that impressed on me the idea that death leads us forward. That story lead to other stories that were on their own very interesting, and helped me connect dots.

You said that you wanted to make a “very Texas sounding” record.  What was the inspiration for going in that direction?

I’m a native Texan and I would never want to write a record that didn’t reflect that in some ways. I don’t want to do just California sounding surf music, because that’s not all that interests me. I wanted to have influences from Mexican music, or at least in vibe. What I think as a “very Texas sounding” record may not sound like Texas to anyone else. There are many more artists who are more true to Texas than I am, I’m sure.

The band’s music for 2014’s Silver Age and They’re Not Gone is heavily filled with surf rock.  Were you a big fan of the genre growing up?

I was never exposed to it growing up, at least not heavily. I think many people can hear “surf” music and just feel it without knowing it, that it’s a very vibe-y energetic music. It makes me want to move, and it’s something I could write. I kind of fell into it to be honest.

How long was the recording process for They’re Not Gone?

I started writing some of the songs in late 2014, early 2015, and we started recording in February 2016 at Austin Signal with Charlie Krampsky. The recording process was amazing. I love being in the studio, and I’ve known Charlie since 2005, so it was such a blast to finally work with him. The recording process is always shorter than the writing process. The hardest thing is to hold onto songs while you scrape money together to try and do the songs justice when recording them. I called on some friends to help play organ and trumpet, and it was so fulfilling to hear the record when it was finished.

In 2013 you were starting out your career as a math teacher, but wanted to still play music.  At any point from then to now have you thought of becoming a full-time musician?

I like separating my passion and my profession, so I can have complete control of the music we put out. Well, my band and I can have complete control. I think there are many pros-and-cons to being a full-time musician, and I have so much respect for the bands doing it, but I know that’s not what my path is. I love to write music and record songs, and if someone wanted to pay me for that, I wouldn’t mind, but I wouldn’t do it full time.

But of course, I’ve thought of it. Anyone who says they haven’t is lying. That’s like asking if I’ve thought about winning the lottery. Of course, I’ve thought of it. But I don’t buy tickets, unless it’s five-hundred million.

I’ve thought about it, but I’m not buying any tickets at this moment.

For They’re Not Gone, what was the band’s main goals to achieve?

I just wanted to write and record these songs, and see growth during the process. I don’t put huge goals out there, I just focus on music. I like playing shows too. My main goal is just to have a batch of songs that are better than the last batch of songs, and we did that.

What’s the plans for the band these upcoming months?

Our only plans right now is the play some shows, have a good time, and eventually work on some new and different songs. See where there are new stories to tell, and new ways to tell them. Past that, I can’t really make any plans.

(Visit Desert Culture here:

“Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings.” Carl Sandburg

Whatever we like it or not, money controls all of our lives.  Cutting their teeth in the underground since the 90’s, North Carolina based duo LegSweep Specialist (emcee Fuzz Jaxx and emcee/producer Sam Brown) know this all too well.  In their single “Money”, the duo soulfully preach on the subject.  Through the buzzing loops and chopped breaks, LegSweep Specialist’s lyrics are real and poignant.

Ghettoblaster is proud to present today the video premiere of “Money”, which comes off LegSweep Specialist’s full-length debut LegSweep.

LegSweep out now via Below System Records (Masta Ace, JR & PH7).

(Visit LegSweep Specialist: